Our Future Lies In Our Past

Again and again, people come through the doors of the Esmeralda speaking of a time spent here and of the wonderful memories they had.

esmeralda-inn-lobbyWhen people ask about The Esmeralda Inn, the long, rich history of our Chimney Rock Inn almost speaks aloud. It is easy to imagine bygone days when stagecoaches stopped on their way to and from the Piedmont Plateau, or when early film stars hid out in this secret retreat far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The Esmeralda Inn was originally built by Colonel Tom Turner in 1891 and opened in 1892. Destroyed by fire in 1917, it was rebuilt on the original foundation. Turner named the Inn for the book Esmeralda by Frances Hodges Burnett, written while the author was staying at a nearby inn. A play, based on the book, enjoyed a year’s run on Broadway. The location of the Inn became known as Esmeralda, North Carolina since a post office was housed at the Inn in 1917, where Thomas Turner, son of Colonel Turner, served as postmaster. The office was discontinued in 1926.

Motion picture makers discovered The Esmeralda and the Hickory Nut Gorge area in 1915. It was a favorite spot of silent movie stars and several silent films were actually filmed at The Esmeralda. Notables such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable and others used The Esmeralda as a hideout. Noted author Lew Wallace finished the script for Ben Hur in room #9. Years later, The Esmeralda and the surrounding Hickory Nut Gorge/Lake Lure region was rediscovered by Hollywood. Last of the Mohicans, Firestarter, and, most notably, Dirty Dancing were a few of the movies filmed in and around Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. After a devastating fire in 1997, The Esmeralda was beautifully restored from the ground up while maintaining its original historic character. The lobby floor of the Inn was donated to the owners at the time of the extensive renovation. It was part of the floor that Patrick Swayze danced on in the film Dirty Dancing.

We look forward to sharing the stories of this unique and beautiful historic retreat and hope that you will join us for a mountain getaway.